Positive Adoption Language

Understanding Positive Adoption Language

Positive adoption language refers to the careful selection of words and phrases that respect the unique experiences and needs of those involved in the adoption process. In addition, it avoids stigmatizing or isolating language. Instead, it aims to encourage a sense of belonging, respect, and empathy.

Examples of Positive vs. Negative Adoption Language

Positive Adoption Language

  • Unexpected pregnancy; Crisis pregnancy; Unintended pregnancy
  • Birth mother; First mother; Expectant mother; Birth parent; Biological parent; Birth father
  • Terminate parental rights; Make an adoption plan; Choosing an adoption plan; Place a child for adoption
  • Birth child
  • My child
  • To parent
  • Child placed for adoption
  • Was adopted

Negative Positive Language

  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Real parent; Natural parent
  • Give up baby for adoption; Give away child for adoption; Put up baby for adoption; Adopted out; Abandon; Surrender; Relinquish 
  • Own child
  • Adopted child
  • To keep
  • Illegitimate; Unwanted; Given up
  • Is adopted

Why do Adoption Agencies use Negative Adoption Language on Websites?

While searching for adoption support, you might find negative adoption language being used by the adoption community and wonder why or feel a way about it. 

We understand that encountering negative adoption language online can be hurtful and confusing for you. It is important to clarify that the presence of such language does not reflect any judgment or disrespect towards birth mothers themselves. Rather, it serves as a means to provide informative content and drive web traffic through the use of SEO keywords. Allow us to explain further.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a practice used by website publishers to ensure the content appears higher in search engine results. By using specific keywords and phrases related to adoption, websites aim to attract relevant audiences who are seeking information on the topic. This, in turn, helps birth mothers like yourself find valuable resources, support, and educational materials more easily.

Basically, we are using some of the same language that you might use to find us. For example, “how do I give my baby up for adoption” or “I’m pregnant and I don’t want the baby“. Ultimately, we want you to find our information from your search therefore we need to use the language in our content.

positive adoption language

How does AAU Adoptions Promote Positive Adoption Language (PAL)?

All About U Adoptions aims to create a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for everyone involved. While you might find negative adoption language used on our site, it is important to us to educate, train, and advocate for adoption and positive adoption language. The presence of negative adoption language on the internet is primarily driven by the need to provide accessible and searchable information. It is not intended as a personal attack or judgment towards birth mothers or their choices.

We provide:

  1. Education and Training: Our agency provides education and training to our staff, prospective adoptive parents, birth parents, and the community about the importance of positive adoption language. This training includes information about the impact of language on adoption and guidance on using appropriate and respectful terms.
  2. Language Awareness and Sensitivity: Our adoption agencies encourage staff, adoptive parents, and birth parents to be aware of the impact their words may have on others and to use language that reflects respect, understanding, and empathy. This may include avoiding stigmatizing or offensive terms, being sensitive to a person’s identity and personal experience, and using language that acknowledges the complexity of adoption.
  3. Communication and Support: AAU actively communicates with adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted individuals to provide ongoing support and guidance on positive adoption language. This support includes sharing resources and offering counseling services to address any challenges related to language use.
  4. Public Advocacy: We advocate for the use of positive adoption language in the broader community by engaging in public outreach campaigns, collaborating with community organizations, and participating in discussions and events that highlight the importance of respectful adoption language.

By implementing these strategies, AAU adoption agencies create a positive adoption environment. Additionally, this environment promotes respectful and inclusive language, which contributes to a more supportive and understanding adoption experience for all involved parties.

Remember that the adoption process is deeply personal and can evoke a wide range of emotions. Connecting with support networks, counseling services, and trusted adoption professionals can help navigate any challenges you may face. If you need support, contact All About U Adoptions today.

Adoption Vocabulary

Adoptee or Adopted Person: A person who was adopted.
Adoption: The complete transfer of parental rights and obligations from one parent or set of parents to another. A legal adoption requires a court action.

Adoption Agency: An organization that provides services to birth parents, adoptive parents and children who need families. Agencies may be public or private, secular, or religious, for profit or nonprofit. Licensed child placing agencies are regulated by the state entity that oversees them (generally Department of Human or Social Services) to assure ethical and legal practices are carried out.

Adoption Attorney: A lawyer who files, processes, and finalizes adoptions in court. Attorneys also assist with termination of parental rights processes. Adoption attorneys do not have the same regulatory oversight as licensed adoption agencies.

Adoption Consultant: An individual or company who offers services for a fee to would-be adoptive parents including finding birth families, creating profiles, financial planning, etc. Consultants are not attorneys, and they are not licensed child placing agencies.

Adoption Facilitator: An individual or company whose business involves connecting birth parents and prospective adoptive parents for a fee (allowed in only a few states).

Adoptive Parent(s): A person or persons who have adopted a child.
Adoption plan: Birth parents’ decision to allow their child to be placed for adoption.

Adoption Tax Credit: Nonrefundable credit that reduces taxes owed by adoptive parents who claim adoption expense reimbursement on federal taxes. The credit calculation can include adoption expenses, court fees, attorney fees, and travel expenses.

Adoption Triad: The three major parties in an adoption: birth parents, adoptive parents and adopted child.

Agency Adoption: Adoptive placements made by licensed organizations that screen prospective adoptive parents and supervise the placement of children in adoptive homes until the adoption is finalized. (See also private adoption)

At Risk Placement: Taking placement of a child before parental rights have been terminated. At-risk means the child may be required to be returned to the birth parents if they change their mind about their adoption plan.

Birth Father: The biological father who has placed a child for adoption. Birth grandparents: The biological grandparents of a child.

Birth Mother: The biological mother who has placed a child for adoption. Birth siblings: The biological siblings of the adopted child.

Closed Adoption: An adoption that involves total confidentiality and sealed records.

Confidentiality: The legal required process of withholding identifying or other significant information. The ethical practice that requires social workers and other professionals not to disclose information about a client without the client’s consent.

Consent for Disclosure of Confidential Information: Applicant’s agreement for release of information relevant to adoption process.

Consent to Adopt: A birth parent’s legal permission for the adoption to proceed.

Decree of Adoption: A legal order that finalizes an adoption. Also called an “order of adoption.”

Disruption: An adoption process that is halted after the prospective adoptive parents have taken custody, but before legal finalization.

Domestic Adoption: An adoption that involves adoptive parents and a child that are permanent residents of the United States.

Emergency Placement: A placement that is made when a child needs to be removed from a situation for emergency purpose.

Employer Benefits: Compensation to workers through employer-sponsored programs, such as, financial assistance, reimbursement of adoption expenses, and/or provision of parental or family leave.

Expectant Mother: A woman who is pregnant and considering adoption for her child after she gives birth.

Finalization: The final legal step in the adoption process; involves a court hearing, during which a judge orders that the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents.

Foster Care (aka cradle care): Licensed adults who provide a temporary home for children whose birth parents are unable to care for them.

Grievance Policy: Agency implemented policy, to address client’s concerns in a constructive and fair manner.

Home Study: A process required before a child can be placed with a family for adoption: (1) Written portion includes autobiographies, references, medical reports, financial statements, child abuse and criminal clearances and other written materials; (2) Social work process includes a series of visits in the applicants’ home to discuss a variety of issues from the applicants’ backgrounds to their motivations to adopt and their understanding of adoption and parenting; (3) Educational process includes training in adoption and parenting issues. The result of this process is a written document completed by a licensed agency giving a summary of the applicants’ life. This document indicates approval of the applicants for adoption that needs to be updated according to state statutes.

Immunization Policy: Agency implemented policy, to address agency and licensing expectations related to immunization requirements.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): The purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is “…to protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture… “(25 U.S. C. 1902). ICWA provides guidance to States regarding the handling of child abuse and neglect and adoption cases involving Native children and sets minimum standards for the handling of these cases. The placement of Native American children can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. If children are placed involuntarily, it will be through Child Protective Services in which case the full gamut of ICWA is in place. If the child is being placed voluntarily by willing Native American birth parents, ICWA regulations offer direction in how the placement is handled but the tribes do not have parental rights over the child and do not have ultimate authority on the placement of children whose birth parents are making a voluntary plan.

Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC): If a child is born in a state other than where the prospective adoptive parents reside, the Interstate Compact of both the baby’s home state and the prospective adoptive parents’ home state must give their approval before the child travels (for the purpose of adoption) to the state where the prospective adoptive parents reside.

Identified Adoption: A situation when expectant mothers and prospective adoptive parents come to the agency already matched.

Identifying Information: Information on birth parents or adoptive parents that discloses their identities.

Kinship Adoption: Adoption by a biological relative of the child.

Legal Guardian: A person who has legal responsibility for the care and management of a person (such as a minor child) who is incapable of administering his or her own affairs.

Legal/Presumed Father: If a birth mother is married her husband is the legal father of the child, regardless of if he is the biological father or not.

Match: The process of being selected by a birth family as the prospective adoptive parents.

Match Meeting: Typically, the first interaction of the birth family and prospective adoptive parents to assess compatibility.

Open Adoption: An adoption that involves disclosure of identifying information and some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families; ranging from sending letters through the agency to exchanging names and/or scheduling visits.

Placement: The point at which a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents; the period before the adoption is finalized. Post-placement supervision: Refers to the services provided by an adoption caseworker between the time that a child is placed in the home of his or her prospective adoptive parents, and the time that the child’s adoption is finalized in court.

Post-Placement Supervision Visit: In-home visit conducted by agency social worker to assess child’s assimilation into the family; frequency based on state requirements.

Pre-Adoption Agreement: Contract that allows specific contact/communication between the adoptive family and birth family; filed with termination/relinquishment paperwork

Private Adoption: Adoption conducted through an attorney without agency involvement. Private adoptions are not regulated by the same standards as licensed child placing agencies. (see also agency adoption)

Private Agencies: Nongovernmental adoption agencies licensed by the state. All About U Adoptions is a private, non-profit licensed child placing agency.

Public Agencies: Social service agencies run by state or county governments that deal mainly with children in foster care. Putative/alleged Father: A man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established, but who is alleged to be, or claims to be the biological father.

Putative Father Registry: A state level option for unmarried men to document through a notary public any women they engage with in intercourse, for the purpose of retaining parental rights for any child they may father.

Relinquishment: Voluntary termination of parental rights.

Revocation: The legally specified period in which a mother who has consented to adoption may revoke that consent and regain custody of her child. The revocation period varies from state to state.

Semi-Open Adoption: Adoption interactions that are typically facilitated by the agency. Limited contact information is shared between the adoptive family and birth family.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): The person’s rights as a parent are legally and permanently severed. The person is not the child’s legal parent anymore and the parent-child relationship no longer exists.

Transracial Adoption: An adoption in which the child and the adoptive parent(s) are not of the same race.


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